The following definitions and descriptions are essential to understanding the states, processes, and consequences of global warming now being discussed throughout the media. This short glossary will hopefully make it considerably easier for the public to understand the many complex facts and processes surrounding global warming issues.
This glossary is not in alphabetical order. In order to allow individuals new to global warming subject to get the basic definitions first, these definitions have been listed in order of least to most complex.
All definitions and illustrations below are from the book, Climageddon: The Global Warming Emergency and How to Survive It. (These definitions are also being used on other global warming educational websites like JobOneforHumanity.org.)
The essential global warming definitions and related concepts:
Greenhouse gases: Atmospheric gases like water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone that can either absorb and emit heat radiation. When they absorb heat radiation they warm the globe, hence global warming.
Global warming: A term used for the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system and its related effects. Qualified climate scientists are more than 97% certain that most of global warming is caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and other human-caused activities.
Global warming consequences: The illustration below lists out many of the most important consequences of global warming. These consequences will also dramatically increase in severity, frequency and scale as global warming continues to escalate.
Irreversible global warming: describes both the process of the earth’s average global temperature continually increasing and the distinct climate state created by the combination of increasing temperatures, crossed global warming tipping points, and multiple self-reinforcing positive feedback loops. These factors collectively cause the global climate to change until it reaches a new state, level, and range of temperature that is irreversible in any time scale that is not far, far longer than the average human lifespan.
The relative time frame for sequestering (removing) the carbon we are now adding to our atmosphere is, at the minimum, centuries. This unfortunately means that long after we stop polluting our atmosphere with fossil fuels, the current consequences of those actions (including irreversible global warming) will last from centuries to thousands of years.
We are in this state of irreversible global warming because of both the gross miscalculations by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) as well as the reality of the time needed to convert all global fossil fuel energy generation systems to green energy generation systems (currently about 35-50 years).
More about the carbon pollution of our atmosphere
Viewing atmospheric carbon ppm measurements is the single best way to see both current and future global warming progress and trends.
As of October 2017 we have 409 carbon parts per million (ppm) in our atmosphere, and we are creating an average increase of 4 or more carbon ppm each year.
Already at these current carbon concentrations, the stability of the bellwether West Antarctic ice sheet has already been breached and is now also irreversible. (The West Antarctic ice sheet is an excellent example of another critical global warming tipping point the world has hurdled past far faster than anyone had foreseen.)
At the carbon 425-450 ppm threshold (which we will hit in about 4-10 years) we continue crossing more critical global warming tipping points within the climate’s many systems and subsystems, but now at an even faster rate.
Once we cross the carbon 500 ppm threshold (projected about 23 years or less from now) ALL ice and ALL glaciers on Earth will go into complete meltdown and the oceans will eventually rise by 70 meters (230 feet). This has happened repeatedly in Earth's geological history whenever carbon levels crossed this critical 500 ppm threshold.
The initial temperature range associated with triggering irreversible global warming is an increase in average global temperature of about 2.2° to 4° Celsius (4°-7.2° Fahrenheit) which, unfortunately, is actually just about where we are now (when you also include all other “already baked in” and unchangeable global warming temperature raising factors in what is called committed global warming defined further below.)
We are at the beginning of a state of irreversible global warming because we can’t stop carbon ppm levels from continuing to rise at about 4 ppm or more per year for at least another 30 - 55 years. Further, this irreversible state is due to the fact that we really can’t significantly change the projected time lag needed to transform the world from being dependent upon dirty fossil fuel energy generation to becoming fully dependent on using clean green energy generation.
To better understand why we are already in a state of irreversible global warming, it is important to look deeper into the term committed global warming, which means there is an already "baked-in" average global temperature increase between about 1.5° and 2.7° Celsius which the Earth will soon hit and that will also not change for centuries no matter what we do right now.
This is due in significant part to:
a. the existing momentum of carbon ppm already in the atmosphere,
b. the new carbon ppm per year that we will inevitably and invariably keep adding over the following 3-5 decades,
c. the already existing ocean warming,
d. the unknown crossed or soon to be crossed new global warming tipping points and points of no return, and,
e. the necessity of re-compensating mathematically for the grossly unrealistic calculations by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) based on their projections for a new “miracle technology” appearing in the second half of the 21st-century for the mass removal of carbon particles from the atmosphere. This "new miracle technology that will save us at the last minute" is a false hope and delusional groupthink distortion of the worst kind and, it will be fully illuminated as such in the coming five part series of articles that I mentioned above.
Unfortunately for us, it is this currently non-existent, new “miracle technology” that the IPPC’s 2015 Paris Agreement calculations rely most heavily upon to keep our future average global temperature increases below their completely ridiculous target of 2° Celsius by 2100. The mathematical, scientific, and mechanical feasibility (to scale up adequately) as well as the unknown side effects of this non existent, new “miracle technology” have already been debunked by respected climate scientists like Kevin Anderson, and they will not reverse our current irreversible global warming, no matter how many times famous billionaire techno-optimists insist this new miracle technology will save us.
Most unfortunately of all, instead of telling the people of the world that we must drastically and immediately cut back on fossil fuel usage to save ourselves and future generations, the 2015 IPCC Paris agreement instead signaled, “Don't worry humanity, you don't have to give up your current comforts or, even make any fast, difficult or costly changes in your current lifestyles and business practices. A nonexistent new ‘miracle technology’ will magically appear in the second half of the 21st-century to suck all of the toxic greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and miraculously save us at the last minute.” This type of delusional groupthink and reliance upon miracle new technology is only appropriate in fairy tales—-never for vital scientific projections, particularly when those projections are the very projections in which humanity and our civilization are relying upon for its future survival.
Because of the advent of irreversible global warming, the processes for the extinction of humanity have accelerated once again. In spite of this additional bad news, please keep in mind that if we are smart and we act now, we still have a significant amount of time to prepare and adapt to save most of humanity and civilization and live meaningful and enjoyable lives.
Extinction-level global warming: The term associated with temperatures exceeding pre-Industrial levels by 5-6° Celsius (9-10.8° Fahrenheit) or carbon ppm levels exceeding 750. Extinction-level global warming begins as early as phase 4 or phase 5 of the Climageddon Scenario. When we hit these later phases, as much as 70 to 90% of humanity will suffer through horrible conditions and eventually die within as little as 30-50 years. This massive die-off will occur only if billions of individuals and businesses do not immediately begin the necessary survival preparations and if they do not soon migrate to global warming safe zones near or above the 45th parallel north or near or below the 45th parallel south. If our atmosphere is also lost in the final stages of phase 6 of the Climageddon Scenario, this will result in the extinction of almost ALL planetary life. This occurs when the climate crosses a final keystone tipping point. This is also referred to as runaway global warming.
Global warming tipping points: The point where a process or stimulus experiences a sudden change, causing the process to jump from one state to a new, significantly different state—much like a tipped wine glass going from being full to empty.
Point of no return: The point of directional motion and momentum at which a developing process thereafter irreversibly moves toward crossing its tipping point.
Positive feedback loop: A process that occurs as a self-reinforcing loop in which the effects of a small disturbance on a system feed back upon itself to increase its magnitude, furthering and increasing the disturbance process in an unending loop. Positive feedback loops can and often do produce tipping points.
West Antarctic Ice Sheet: A good example of the dangers of crossing a point of no return and its tipping point, this ice sheet has already begun the irreversible collapse process. Once this particular ice sheet melts completely, it will trigger the subsequent melting of most of Antarctica's ice, significantly raising global sea levels.
Global warming emergency: is defined by the current 400-409 ppm level of carbon parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere as well as by the continued exponential rise of annual carbon ppm in the atmosphere (now at about 4 ppm additional per year). We are currently in a global warming state of emergency and are either poised at the edge of or already at irreversible global warming.
Global warming temperature prediction models: To predict future temperatures, scientists use supercomputers to create many different models and simulations that incorporate current observational data. They also experiment with many different formulas and factors as there are many variables. There are climate inertia and momentum variables, as well as adjustment variables for the overall climate changing more slowly in the past than today. Additionally, although different formulas and factors may be used for determining temperature increase time frames and these predictions may vary somewhat, what hasn't changed is that 97% of all climate scientists say human-caused global warming is real, dangerous, and an immediate problem for the future of humanity.
Meta-systemic analysis used for global warming: Examining systems and subsystems involved in global warming from a meta perspective that considers them both as stand-alone and individual systems as well as being interconnected and interdependent with and upon each other. Meta-systemic analysis involves detailed analysis of processes, contexts, relationships, and the continual transformations occurring among and between interconnected and interdependent systems and subsystems within the selected area of analysis.
Runaway global warming: Also referred to as runaway greenhouse effect or extinction-level global warming, this describes the circumstance in which the climate destabilizes catastrophically and permanently from its original state—similar to what happened on Venus when the planet lost its atmosphere out into space. This thought to have happened to Venus 4 billion years ago, resulting in a carbon-rich atmosphere and minimum surface temperatures of 462° C.
Understanding the differences: climate, weather, and the global warming processes
Carbon parts per million (ppm): The current level and concentration of carbon molecules in our atmosphere, as measured by the Keeling curve (below) in parts per million. Additional carbon molecules are the main reason behind today's escalating global warming. Because of the immutable laws of physics, the more cumulative carbon particles we add to the atmosphere, the faster temperatures will rise!
Keeling curve for measuring atmospheric carbon: A graph below plotting the ongoing change in concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere since 1958 as charted by Charles David Keeling. Keeling's measurements showed the first significant evidence of rapidly increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Using Keeling curve observational data for temperature increase predictions, one can extrapolate that for each additional 25 ppm of carbon added to the atmosphere in the future, temperature would rise an estimated 0.27° Celsius (0.5° Fahrenheit). The length of time for that temperature increase to be realized varies, but in general, the more cumulative carbon we add to the atmosphere, the faster temperatures will rise!
No matter what you're hearing in the media or being told implying we are making progress reversing global warming, if the atmospheric carbon ppm level is not going back down towards the carbon 350 ppm safer zone, global warming is not getting better! This is because more atmospheric carbon ppm equals increasing global heat in the future.
Carbon 425 to 450 ppm (the Climate Cliff): At or around this point, there is a significant increase in the speed and scale of crossing of global warming tipping points within the many global warming systems and subsystems.The carbon 425-450 ppm range also marks the last battle line and last chance for maintaining meaningful control over the processes that will prevent irreversible global warming from eventually becoming extinction level climate destabilization.
Parts per million (ppm) and parts per million by volume (ppmv): A measurement of the concentration of pollutants in the atmosphere, "ppm" describes parts per million by weight, which typically accounts for one pollutant (such as carbon) and does not account for traces of other pollutants. Parts per million by volume (ppmv), on the other hand, includes other trace gases, such as methane.
Carbon sequestration: is the process involved in carbon capture and the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Carbon sequestration involves long-term storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon to mitigate or defer global warming. Carbon dioxide is naturally captured from the atmosphere through biological, chemical, and physical processes.
Climate: “This is the statistics of weather, usually taken over a 30-year interval. It is measured by assessing the patterns of variation in temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, precipitation, atmospheric carbon and other particle count, and other meteorological variables in a given region over long periods of time. Climate differs from weather, in that weather describes only the less than 30 year short-term conditions of these variables in a given region.” (From Wikipedia.) Fossil fuel lobbyists like to confuse us by directing our attention to the shorter time cycles of weather and climate, whereas the global warming temperature humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, precipitation, atmospheric particle count, and other meteorological variables cycles that have occurred over hundreds of thousands or millions of years are the most important ones to understand our current global warming emergency. When we compare current global warming cycles to past global warming cycles and time frames rather than current weather, or 30-year climate cycles, we can more clearly see what's really happening and how dangerous out current trends of rapidly escalating global warming is to our future. See graph below for long-term variations in carbon ppm concentrations in our atmosphere.
Image via Robert A. Rohdes, Wikimedia commons.
Climate change: An intentionally misleading term forwarded by fossil fuel lobbyists and the media they control to focus the target audience’s attention on the less than 30 year weather changes to downplay the real and longer-term dangers of global warming to the public and media.
Garrett global warming crisis: If we do not scale up green energy generation as fast as we scale down fossil fuel energy generation, the global economy will collapse. If we do not radically shut down fossil fuel energy generation immediately, civilization will eventually collapse and humanity may go extinct.
Methane time bomb: Popularly known as the clathrate gun hypothesis, an increase in sea temperature that triggers a sudden release of methane from seabeds and permafrost, leading to irreversible temperature rise. There is evidence of these occurrences in the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum extinction event 55.5 million years ago and the Permian-Triassic extinction event 252 million years ago.
Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) extinction event: A warming event 55.5 million years ago in which gigatons of carbon and methane were released into the atmosphere after the global temperature rose 5° C. It resulted in the extinction of roughly 70,000 species and is the most recent and accurate event within Earth's geologic history to compare to today's global warming.
Sixth Great Extinction: Also known as the Holocene or Anthropocene extinction, this refers to the ongoing extinction event during our present Holocene epoch due to human activity, especially global warming. At present, the rate of extinction is estimated to be up to 140,000 species per year—the greatest loss of biodiversity since the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago.
Keystone tipping point: A tipping point that triggers other dependent and interconnected tipping points. Crossing a keystone tipping point is one of the potential triggers for irreversible global warming, leading into the later extinction phases of the Climageddon Scenario
The perfect storm of perfect storms: The process of multiple global warming tipping points crossing over to degrade and destabilize climate, human, and biological systems and subsystems in a self-reinforcing positive feedback loop and meltdown.
Climagees: Refugees from areas stricken by the various consequences of global warming such as famine, drought, and flooding.
Climageddon: This coined term combines the words climate and Armageddon. “Armageddon” is often used to refer to any end-of-the-world scenario. Global warming as described in the new book Climageddon has evolved into an impending end-of-the-world scenario.
Climageddon Scenario: A new time-sequenced, analytical prediction and planning model to better understand the complex and intertwined processes, contexts, relationships, transformations, tipping points, and consequences of the escalating global warming emergency, up to and including an extinction scenario. (See illustrations below.)
Precautionary principle: “Used by policy makers to guide discretionary decisions in situations where there is the possibility of harm from making a certain decision (e.g. taking a particular course of action) when extensive scientific knowledge on the matter is lacking. The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result.” (from Wikipedia)
Destructive creation: The evolutionary recycling meta-pattern for parts or wholes of a system or subsystem that are unable to adapt. This core meta-pattern of breakdown and recycling allows these parts to be reused and once again to support future experiments in the evolutionary process.
Climate destabilization: According to Alexei Turchin, “[a] transitional state of escalating global climate instability...characterized by greater unpredictability, which lasts until the global climate eventually finds a new and different stable state of dynamic equilibrium and balance at some different level of temperature and other climate qualities from what it has held for hundreds or thousands of of years."
Catastrophic climate destabilization: Term associated with a measurement of carbon 400-450 ppm (Climageddon Scenario Phase 1). The eventual temperature range commonly associated with catastrophic climate destabilization is an increase in average global temperature of about 1.2°-2.7° Celsius (2.2°- 4.9° Fahrenheit). When global warming-caused storms, floods, seasonal disruption, wildfires, and droughts begin to cost a nation 30 to 100 billion-plus dollars per incident to repair (like Hurricane Sandy), we will have reached the level of catastrophic climate destabilization.
Irreversible climate destabilization: A term associated with the overall state of the global climate and a measurement of carbon ppm beginning around carbon 425 ppm up to about carbon 550-600 ppm (Climageddon Scenario, Phases 2-4). The eventual temperature range associated with irreversible climate destabilization is an increase in average global temperature of up to 4° Celsius (7.2° Fahrenheit). Irreversible climate destabilization is a new average global temperature range and a set of destabilizing climate consequences we will never recover from—or that will take hundreds or even thousands of years to correct or re-balance. When global warming-caused storms, floods, seasonal disruption, wildfires, and droughts begin to cost a nation 100-300 billion-plus dollars per incident to repair, we will have reached the level of irreversible climate destabilization.
Extinction-level climate destabilization: Term to describe when the amount of carbon in the air reaches carbon 600 ppm and global temperatures average between 5° and 6° Celsius (9-10.8° Fahrenheit), resulting in the eventual extinction of up to half or more of all species on Earth (Climageddon Scenario, Phases 5-6). Extinction-level climate destabilization occurs when life can no longer successfully exist. There is a possibility that extinction-level climate destabilization may never correct or re-balance itself to some new equilibrium level. If the climate were able to correct or re-balance itself from this level of destabilization, it could take hundreds to thousands of years.
Complex adaptive system: The collective whole of connected structures and processes (systems and subsystems) that are highly unpredictable, self-organizing, and often include spontaneous or unexpected outcomes and tipping points. They also contain nonlinear relationships, meaning that one area can affect a completely different system or subsystem where there seems to be no discernible cause-and-effect relationship.
Second Industrial Revolution: A period of innovation between 1870 and 1914 that introduced the combustion engine, the telegraph, radio, mass production via assembly lines, widespread usage of electricity, and the expanded use of oil and steel.
Third Industrial Revolution: A new industrial revolution based on moving out of fossil fuel energy generation and into green energy generation, as well as using new Internet and other digital technologies that will create hundreds of millions of new jobs. Like the mechanization of the textile industry in the First Industrial Revolution and the introduction of mass production via assembly lines in the Second Industrial Revolution, the Third Industrial Revolution is occurring as manufacturing moves from fossil fuels to green energy and into digital innovations such as the Internet of Things. This term refers to Jeremy Rifkin's concepts from The Third Industrial Revolution.
Sustainable prosperity: A set of new sustainability principles that create shared sufficiency as well as abundance for individuals, communities, and nations in the vital and meaningful areas of life, and to have this qualified prosperity sustained over the long term. (See “Sustainable Prosperity” at JobOneforHumanity.org.)
First Great Evolutionary Bottleneck: A drastic reduction in the global human population due to a supervolcanic eruption 50,000 years ago. This global disaster was theorized to have reduced the human species to 3,000-10,000 survivors and as few as 1,000 to 200 remaining mating pairs. If escalating global warming continues, we are headed for the second great evolutionary bottleneck.
Global warming slowing and lessening actions: Critical actions required to have a meaningful chance to prevent irreversible global warming from becoming extinction-level global warming, such as achieving carbon neutrality and transitioning globally to renewable green energy generation immediately in a global mass mobilization effort.
Wild card: An unpredictable positive or negative factor that can drastically influence the outcome of a situation.
45th parallel north: A circle of latitude 45 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean. (It is important because this is the current northern demarcation line for safe global warming migration zones.)
45th parallel south: A circle of latitude 45 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, Australasia, the Pacific Ocean, and South America. (This is the current southern demarcation line for safe global warming migration zones.)
Celsius to Fahrenheit conversions: These amounts are usually used to represent temperature increases above pre-Industrial (1760-1840) average global temperatures. The illustration below also shows the projected temperature increase at each phase of the Climageddon Scenario, which is defined further below.
Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e): A standard unit for measuring all greenhouse gases in terms of the amount of warming they create compared to CO2.
Job One for Humanity organization: A nonprofit social benefit organization whose mission is to provide accurate facts and strategies to its members and to the global warming educational movement to help this movement adjust its no longer appropriate strategies, to prepare for the unavoidable escalating global warming future of worsening catastrophes and, to avoid the later extinction level phases of the Climageddon Scenario. (JobOneforHumanity.org)
Job One for Humanity Plan to end global warming: A comprehensive “first-things-first” plan using innovative remedial strategies and the best science available. It is a fully prioritized sequence of action steps designed to prepare individuals to survive what is coming and slow and lessen global warming.
Great adaptive challenge, great evolutionary adventure: A positive perspective for viewing the current global warming emergency and challenge.
For more information relating to the subject of the definitions above, see the new Climageddon book.
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